Category Archives: magic

The First Time

It’s always better the first time around – more exciting, more memorable, more fun. That first time you try out that new restaurant, and it then becomes your favorite. That first time you take a mouthful of the ramen, and the springiness of the noodles and the richness of the broth is forever ingrained in your food memories. That first time you meet someone new over a meal, and time just flies like the conversation is endless. When the second time comes around, it is less exciting. You know what to expect, you discovered most of what is new about the person, the place, the thing. It is that uncertainty, whether it will truly be as good as everyone says it is or be a complete disappointment, that makes the first time so great. Treasure the first time, savor the moment, because it will only happen once.

These are my first moments at the following restaurants in Chicago. Even though the food may be the same the second time around, it will never exactly feel or taste the same as the very first time.

Vinci – Lincoln Park

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I came here with my sister to use a Groupon deal that I bought a while ago. $20 for $40 to spend at an Italian restaurant, count me in! I got the Spinach pappardelle – hand-made spinach pappardelle with roast duck, mushrooms, ovendried tomatoes, truffle oil, parmigiano. I loved the noodles. It definitely tasted very fresh. The slight chewiness and springiness of the noodles were perfect. The meal was great, and we even got a table right next to the window. A lot of the guests at Vinci that night were there for a pre-show dinner. I wish I knew about this show that was going on, because I would have liked to go.

Wasabi – Logan Square

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My friend invited me here, because her friend from NYC was visiting Chicago for the week. I am a huge fan of ramen restaurants if you haven’t noticed already, and I was excited about trying another ramen place in Chicago. I’ve had some pretty excellent ramen in NYC, but none that have really stood out to me in Chicago. This place was excellent. As good as or even better than the places in NYC. I loved it! I got the Tonkotsu Ramen – egg noodle, rich pork broth, berkshire pork cheek, soft boiled egg, marinated bamboo shoot, scallion, sesame, kikurage mushroom. The thing that makes or breaks a bowl of ramen is the broth, and this broth was spectacular. I was tempted to drink all of the broth after I finished my noodles! I loved the richness of the broth. The ingredients in the ramen were also quite tasty. The soft boiled egg, which isn’t quite as runny as a poached egg, but not quite as solid as a hard boiled egg, was the perfect texture for the ramen. 

The Girl and the Goat – West Loop

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My friends have been raving about this place for a while, and I finally got to try it. This restaurant owned by a Top Chef contestant is known for having one of the best foods in Chicago. I had high expectations for this place, and I was not disappointed. The small plates are meant to be shared, but my friends and I weren’t too hungry. We each ordered one dish. I ordered the scallops served with squash, onions, and other ingredients. The scallops were so soft. I took the first bite, and I couldn’t believe what I was eating. These are the best scallop I ever had! I hope the next time I go, the scallops will be as good as I remembered it being.

Cafe Iberico – River North

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I came here to meet up with a Georgetown friend who just recently moved to Chicago for his job. I am so excited more fellow Georgetown Hoyas are here in the city! Cafe Iberico is a Spanish tapas restaurant. The highlight of the meal in my opinion was the Iberico Styled Paella – chicken, pork, and rice baked in a pan with saffron sauce. All of the flavors from the meat and seafood infused into the rice making a fragrant and delicious dish. I could eat this for lunch any day!

My firsts with all four of these restaurants were spectacular. I don’t know what the second time will be like, but I hope if I return again it will be good as the first time.

 

 

Universal Studios Orlando and Harry P. Leu Gardens

Continuation of my trip to Orlando. I was suffering from serious Disney World withdrawal during the first couple of weeks back in Chicago. Listening to my Disney playlist on repeat, getting excited for Disney movie marathons and spreading my enthusiasm for Disney magic. Unfortunately the Disney magic obsession has slowly died down, but I think I will always have a little bit more spark and a little bit more whimsical magic in me after this terrific trip.

Universal Studios Orlando

Harry Potter World – Hogsmeade

Butterbeer in Hogsmeade

Harry Potter World – Hogwarts

My favorite part of Universal Studios Orlando was Harry Potter world. It was a lot smaller than I imagined, but still great to walk through. A real life version of what I imagined from reading the books, and what was pictured in the movies. If you ever wondered what Butterbeer tastes like, it tastes like a super sweet Coke float.

The Lorax in the World of Dr. Seuss

I loved the World of Dr. Seuss. The world where imagination comes to life. The things I love about the Dr. Seuss books are how unique his wording is and how creative the characters look. Everything looks like it came from an entirely different universe. Dr. Seuss is quite the character.

The Lorax at the parade

Here I am eating a monstrous chocolate sprinkle dipped sundae on a stick. Talk about a sugar rush!

Harry P. Leu Garden 

I wandered over to the Harry P. Leu Gardens on my first day, since I got in way before my friends did. I spotted this beautiful fountain in the Rose Garden.

Though people are not suppose to do this, people etched their names into the bamboo.

At first I thought this was a sundial, but it is an actual clock with the flowers and plants adorning the face. How unique!

Check back on Wednesday for a post that was inspired by this quote that I overheard from a bro on the train. Bros… gotta love them.

Today we’re only going to eat foods that begin with B: burgers, brats, beer … and bananas

– random bro on the train

Everyday is a Magical Day in Disney World

I hope everyone enjoyed their Labor Day Weekend! Over Labor Day weekend I went to Disney World, “the most magical place on earth“. I didn’t quite believe in this Disney magic till I got to Disney World, and every conversation with a Disney employee ended with “Have a magical day”. Wandering around Downtown Disney, a large outdoor shopping and dining area, all the trees were twinkling with white Christmas lights. There was even a store that sold Disney themed Christmas items year round called 365 Days of Christmas!  Booths sold light up Mickey Mouse ears that made for a festive night. A colorful merry-go-round spun around to the tunes of classic Disney songs.

Most importantly the continuous stream of Disney songs that brought back childhood memories of watching the classic Disney movies. For a twenty-something college grad like me, it is fun to pretend to be a kid for a weekend. The entire ambiance of Disney World brought out the kid in me. Thrilled and ecstatic to be in Disney World. To pretend to be a child, free of responsibilities of the real world, even if it is only for a weekend.

Downtown Disney

Let the magical memories begin in a place where all dreams come true!

dragon made from Legos

enjoying a drink at Paradiso 37

cilantro rice, fried sweet plantains and griddle corn cakes

Paradiso 37, a restaurant that features food from North, South and Central America, was a great place for a upbeat dinner. We sat outside overlooking the lagoon. There was also a live singer singing old and new hits. We made this dinner into a karaoke session belting out hits such as Adele’s Someone Like You to Journey’s Don’t Stop Believing. Not only was the atmosphere terrific, but the food was delicious too. I got a combination of different sides. I really enjoyed the cilantro rice. It was the perfect texture with just the right amount of flavor. I never had griddle corn cakes before. Tasted like a softer, moister version of corn bread. Yum!

Rigatoni Calabrese – Italian sausage, mushrooms, tomatoes, olives, escarole

On our last night at Disney World we ate outdoors at Portobello, an Italian restaurant. I really enjoyed this dish. It was one of their lighter pastas with a chicken broth reduction sauce. The rigatoni was cooked to perfection, and really absorbed all of the flavors of the broth and the other ingredients.

the wonderful world of Disney

I’m a princess

Had my little kid moment, and tried on Belle’s dress from Beauty and the Beast. I love the weird looks I am getting from the man and his daughter in the back. I could just imagine them thinking “Why is that big girl in a princess dress?” Well this is Disney World, and I can totally try on a princess dress if I want to. My shining Disney princess moment!

Disney’s Coronado Resort

These are pictures of the Coronado Resort where we were staying. A beautiful Southwestern themed resort with a gorgeous lagoon in the middle. The luscious greenery added to the picturesque resort. I loved how the water had such perfect reflections of the resort.

The pool area in the resort. Funny story about our pool adventure. My friends and I were standing around in the pool bopping to some poolside Disney songs. This preteen boy swimming underwater resurfaced in the middle of our circle. This happened more than once. The final time he resurfaced in the middle of our circle, he appeared out of the water. He then proceeded to do that hair flick, where you whip your head back and water flies out of your hair, and gave me this face. I didn’t realize what was happening until my friend told me that he must have thought I was a preteen, and subsequently tried to put his flirting skills to use. I do look young, but preteen young? Must find a way to look older, or more my age. I don’t think putting on that Disney princess dress helps in looking older. Oh the wonders of Disney!

I have only seen a couple of rainbows in my life, and this was just so breathtaking to see. It’s a circular rainbow around the sun. How magical!

Check back on Sunday for a post on the rest of my trip: Universal Studios Orlando and Orlando’s Harry P. Leu Gardens!